Piles of potential new clothing creations filled Daisy May’s closet and were piled on top of her waist-high desk in stacks tall enough to reach the middle of her chest.
May’s latest sales from her online upcycling fashion business hung on a white freestanding clothes rack. She pulled out her favorite piece, a jean jacket with red fringe dangling from the back and an IU symbol stitched below the collar off the rack and held it up. She delicately rubbed the fringe before putting it in its original place.
May, an IU sophomore, runs the Bloomington business Rebloomed Clothes. She buys vintage or secondhand IU apparel and upcycles them, or gives pieces of clothing a new look, before selling them on her Instagram @rebloomedclothes and occasionally at a pop-up store.
May started the business her senior year of high school after realizing she had a knack for revamping clothes.
“I had just started by taking my friend’s clothes and adding lace to them and making alterations to them,” she said. “Making them more special than what they already were.”
She named her business Rebloomed Clothes at the request of her father, who taught her how to sew on a 1920s Singer sewing machine. May’s original name for it was Second-Hand Fiend, but upon further reflection she realized it was just not the right fit.
Rebloomed Clothes, however, encompassed both her first name, which is a type of flower, and the idea of her giving older clothes a new life.
“I’m like, ‘Wow Dad, you might actually be the smartest person alive,’” May said.
She continued the business when she entered college, but May initially chose to major in human biology.
May said although she had an interest in fashion design, at the end of high school her career goals were more money oriented, and in her mind it was doctors, not fashion designers, who made a lot of money.
“By coming to college and exploring myself, I realized that money isn’t the most important thing and taking care of our world and taking care of people is,” said May, who is now majoring in fashion design. “Although a doctor can take care of people, I can’t pass human biology.”
One way May said she is taking care of the world through fashion is by encouraging people to buy vintage or upcycled clothing and items and follow other sustainable fashion practices.
May’s life was forever changed in 2018 when she first watched the documentary “The True Cost,” which discusses issues of the fast fashion industry. She said she had some knowledge of these problems, but didn’t know the full extent until after watching the documentary.
May said one of these issues is the rapid cycle of trends and unhealthy practice of constantly purchasing new clothes, which leads to waste. Another issue is the low wages paid to the workers in factories who create fast fashion clothing.
“When you go to Forever 21 and you pick up that $20 jean skirt that you can’t live without, you’re not looking at the people and the lives that were affected by making that skirt,” May said. “It just has a way bigger impact than most people think.”
Because of the documentary and her prior knowledge, May is dedicated to participating in sustainable fashion practices in her personal life as well as in her business.
“It’s important to shop vintage because it’s giving existing clothes another lifespan,” May said. “By using something that already exists, you are being sustainable.”
May said she plans to continue Rebloomed Clothes, but she does not plan on it being her entire future.
“I love doing it,and I love thrifting, and I don’t think that will ever stop, but it will be what it is now, probably in five years. Just something that I enjoy doing on the side.”
As of right now, May said her five year goal is to work with a fashion company to improve their sustainability practices, and by extension, people’s lives and the planet.
“Fashion is hopefully my future,” May said.
She then looked off at her various projects, ongoing and finished, that lined her living room walls.